Black cumin seeds (referred to as Habb al-Barakah in the Middle East) are obtained form the herb Nigella sativa native to the Mediterranean region and India.
By H. S. Nemr
Source and chemical components
These seeds are a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids and contain about 35% oil, 21% protein, and 38% carbohydrates. More than 50% of the oil is essential fatty acids. Black Seed also contains about 0.5-1.5% volatile oils including Nigellone and Thymochinon.
The Linoleic acid and Gamma-Linolenic acid content in the seeds help in the formation of Prostaglandin E1, which helps the body to inhibit infections, balance the immune system, and regulate allergic reactions. Gamma-Linolenic acid also helps stabilize the cell membrane. Nigellone and Thymochinon are responsible for Black Seed’s anti-histamine, anti-oxidant, anti-infective, and broncho-dialating effects.
Since 1959, there have been over 200 published articles supporting the traditional uses of Black seeds. In 1960, researchers confirmed that Nigellone was responsible for Black Seeds broncho-dialating effect. Recently, researchers have confirmed that Black Seed extract possesses anti-bacterial, anti-mycotic effects and may stimulate bone marrow, immune cells, and raise interferon production which protects normal cells against the cell destroying effects of viruses, destroys tumor cells and raise the number of anti-body producing B cells.
Therapeutic and reported folk uses
Traditionally, Black Seed has been used for a variety of conditions and treatments related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal complaints, kidney & liver function, circulatory & immune system support, and to improve general health. Its can be topically used for eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, inflammation, and scalp massage.
To manage Headache, Cough and common cold symptoms, 1/2 teaspoon of the extract or oil three times daily.
To improve general health, 1 to 2 Nigella oil 500 mg capsules daily.
Adverse reactions and precautions
No adverse effects or precautions are noted for Black seed if used in the above mentioned dosage range.
Caution should be taken when using black seed oil due the fact that many imported oil products may be adulterated or mixed with other oils. Some oils are extracted with heat and hexane, a petrolium by-product. Always use a product that is labeled as 100%, cold-pressed, solvent free, and machine sealed.
H.S. Nemr is a graduate of BAU pharmacy school. He is currently a medication safety officer at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare system.
- Professional’s Handbook of Complementary Alternative Medicines, Springhouse, 2nd edition.\
- Medicinal plants in the traditions of prophet Muhammad ,Dr. M Farooqi, 1998.
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